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Ailmemts & Remedies

Claustrophobia

Definition:
A phobia is a form of anxiety disorder in which someone has an intense and irrational fear of certain objects or situations. Anyone suffering from high levels of anxiety is at risk of developing a phobia. One of the most common phobias is claustrophobia, or the fear of enclosed spaces. A person who has claustrophobia may panic when inside a lift, aeroplane, crowded room or other confined area.

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Some other phobias, borne from anxiety, include social phobia – fear of embarrassing yourself in front of others – and agoraphobia, which is the fear of open spaces. The cause of anxiety disorders such as phobias is thought to be a combination of genetic vulnerability and life experience. With appropriate treatment, it is possible to overcome claustrophobia or any other phobia.

It is an anxiety disorder that involves the fear of enclosed or confined spaces. Claustrophobes may suffer from panic attacks, or fear of having a panic attack, in situations such as being in elevators, trains, or aircraft.

Conversely, people who are prone to having panic attacks will often develop claustrophobia.[citation needed] If a panic attack occurs while they are in a confined space, then the claustrophobe fears not being able to escape the situation. Those suffering from claustrophobia might find it difficult to breathe in enclosed spaces. Like many other disorders, claustrophobia can sometimes develop due to a traumatic incident in childhood.

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Claustrophobia can be treated in similar ways to other anxiety disorders, with a range of treatments including cognitive behavior therapy and the use of anti-anxiety medication. Hypnosis is an alternative treatment for claustrophobia.

The name claustrophobia comes from the Latin word claustrum which means “a bolt, a place shut in” and the Greek word phobos meaning “fear”.


Causes :-

Claustrophobia can develop from either a traumatic childhood experience (such as being trapped in a small space during a childhood game), or from another unpleasant experience later on in life involving confined spaces (such as being stuck in an elevator).

When an individual experiences such an event, it can often trigger a panic attack; this response then becomes programmed in the brain, establishing an association between being in a tight space and feeling anxious or out-of-control. As a result, the person often develops claustrophobia.

Symptoms:
If a person suffering from claustrophobia suddenly finds themselves in an enclosed space, they may have an anxiety attack. Symptoms can include:

*Sweating
*Accelerated heart rate
*Hyperventilation, or ‘overbreathing’
*Shaking
*Light-headedness
*Nausea
*Fainting
*Fear of actual harm or illness.

Specific symptoms of claustrophobia:-
When in an enclosed space, the signs of claustrophobia may include:

  • Inside a room – automatically checking for the exits, standing near the exits or feeling alarmed when all doors are closed.
  • Inside a vehicle, such as a car – avoiding times when traffic is known to be heavy.
  • Inside a building – preferring to take the stairs rather than the lift, and not because of health reasons.
  • At a party – standing near the door in a crowded room, even if the room is large and spacious.
  • In extreme cases – for a person with severe claustrophobia, a closed door will trigger feelings of panic.

The catch-22 of avoidance
Once a person has experienced a number of anxiety attacks, they become increasingly afraid of experiencing another. They start to avoid the objects or situations that bring on the attack. However, any coping technique that relies on avoidance can only make the phobia worse. It seems that anticipating the possibility of confinement within a small space intensifies the feelings of anxiety and fear.

Frequency:-
It was found that 5-10.6% of people screened before an MRI scan had claustrophobia. Furthermore, it was found that 7% of patients had unidentified claustrophobia, and had to terminate the scanning procedure prematurely. 30% reported milder distress due to the necessity to lie in a confined space for a long time. For specific phobias in general, there is a lifetime prevalence rate of 7.2%-11.3%. Other forms of Claustrophobia include conditions such as Agrophobia and panic attacks.

The thought of treatment can be frightening
For someone with a disabling phobia, the realisation that this fear is irrational and that treatment is needed can cause further anxiety. Since most treatment options depend on confronting the feared situation or object, the person may feel reluctant.

Support and encouragement from family and friends is crucial. A person trying to overcome a phobia may find some treatment methods particularly challenging and will need the love and understanding of their support people. The therapist may even ask the family members or friends to attend certain sessions, in order to bolster the courage of the person seeking treatment.

Treatment:-

There is no cure for claustrophobia, however, there are several forms of treatment that can help an individual control her condition. Treatment for claustrophobia can include behavior therapy, exposure therapy, drugs or a combination of several treatments.
Treating phobias, including claustrophobia, relies on psychological methods. Depending on the person, some of these methods may include:

  • Flooding – this is a form of exposure treatment, where the person is exposed to their phobic trigger until the anxiety attack passes. The realisation that they have encountered their most dreaded object or situation, and come to no actual harm, can be a powerful form of therapy.
  • Counter-conditioning – if the person is far too fearful to attempt flooding, then counter-conditioning can be an option. The person is taught to use specific relaxation and visualisation techniques when experiencing phobia-related anxiety. The phobic trigger is slowly introduced, step-by-step, while the person concentrates on attaining physical and mental relaxation. Eventually, they can confront the source of their fear without feeling anxious. This is known as systematic desensitisation.
  • Modelling – the person watches other people confront the phobic trigger without fear and is encouraged to imitate that confidence.
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) – the person is encouraged to confront and change the specific thoughts and attitudes that lead to feelings of fear.
  • Medications – such as tranquillisers and antidepressants. Drugs known as beta blockers may be used to treat the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a pounding heart.

Alternative claustrophobia treatments include regression hypnotherapy, in which hypnotherapy is used to remember the traumatic event that led to the individual’s claustrophobia. The patient is taught to see the event with ‘adult’ eyes, which helps to decrease the sense of panic that it has instilled into their minds.

Length of treatment
The person may be treated as an outpatient or, sometimes, as an inpatient if their phobia is particularly severe. Generally, treatment consists of around eight to 10 weeks of bi-weekly sessions.

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Click to learn about :->Open MRI reduces patient claustrophobia, study confirms

Anxiety Disorder Treatment

Where to get help

  • Sane Australia Helpline Tel. 1800 187 263
  • Your doctor
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Trained therapist

Things to remember

  • A phobia is an intense and irrational fear of certain objects or situations.
  • A person who has claustrophobia may panic when inside an enclosed space, such as a lift, aeroplane or crowded room.
  • With appropriate treatment, it is possible to overcome claustrophobia or any other phobia.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Claustrophobia?open
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claustrophobia
http://www.epigee.org/mental_health/claustrophobia.html

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Meditation News on Health & Science

Scientists Probe Meditation Secrets

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Scientists are beginning to uncover evidence that meditation has a tangible effect on the brain.

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There is evidence that meditation changes brain structures

Sceptics argue that it is not a practical way to try to deal with the stresses of modern life.

But the long years when adherents were unable to point to hard science to support their belief in the technique may finally be coming to an end.

When Carol Cattley’s husband died it triggered a relapse of the depression which had not plagued her since she was a teenager.

“I instantly felt as if I wanted to die,” she said. “I couldn’t think of what else to do.”

Carol sought medical help and managed to control her depression with a combination of medication and a psychological treatment called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

However, she believes that a new, increasingly popular course called Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) – which primarily consists of meditation – brought about her full recovery.

It is currently available in every county across the UK, and can be prescribed on the NHS.

One of the pioneers of MBCT is Professor Mark Williams, from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford.

He helps to lead group courses which take place over a period of eight weeks. He describes the approach as 80% meditation, 20% cognitive therapy.

New perspective

He said: “It teaches a way of looking at problems, observing them clearly but not necessarily trying to fix them or solve them.

“It suggests to people that they begin to see all their thoughts as just thoughts, whether they are positive, negative or neutral.”

MBCT is recommended for people who are not currently depressed, but who have had three or more bouts of depression in their lives.

Trials suggest that the course reduces the likelihood of another attack of depression by over 50%.

Professor Williams believes that more research is still needed.

He said: “It is becoming enormously popular quite quickly and in many ways we now need to collect the evidence to check that it really is being effective.”

However, in the meantime, meditation is being taken seriously as a means of tackling difficult and very modern challenges.

Scientists are beginning to investigate how else meditation could be used, particularly for those at risk of suicide and people struggling with the effects of substance abuse.

What is meditation?

Meditation is difficult to define because it has so many different forms.

Broadly, it can be described as a mental practice in which you focus your attention on a particular subject or object.

It has historically been associated with religion, but it can also be secular, and exactly what you focus your attention on is largely a matter of personal choice.

It may be a mantra (repeated word or phrase), breathing patterns, or simply an awareness of being alive.

Some of the more common forms of meditative practices include Buddhist Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and Zen Meditation.

The claims made for meditation range from increasing immunity, improving asthma and increasing fertility through to reducing the effects of aging.

Limited research

Research into the health claims made for meditation has limitations and few conclusions can be reached, partly because meditation is rarely isolated – it is often practised alongside other lifestyle changes such as diet, or exercise, or as part of group therapy.

So should we dismiss it as quackery? Studies from the field of neuroscience suggest not.

It is a new area of research, but indications are intriguing and suggest that meditation may have a measurable impact on the brain.

In Boston, Massachusetts, Dr Sara Lazar has used a technique called MRI scanning to analyse the brains of people who have been meditating for several years.

She compared the brains of these experienced practitioners with people who had never meditated and found that there were differences in the thickness of certain areas of the brain’s cortex, including areas involved in the processing of emotion.

She is continuing research, but she believes that meditation had caused the brain to change physical shape.

Buddhist monks

In Madison, Wisconsin, Dr Richard Davidson has been carrying out studies on Buddhist monks for several years.

His personal belief is that “by meditating, you can become happier, you can concentrate more effectively and you can change your brain in ways that support that.”

In one study he observed the brains of a group of office workers before and after they undertook a course of meditation combined with stress reduction techniques.

At the end of the course the participants’ brains seemed to have altered in the way they functioned.

They showed greater activity in the left-hand side – a characteristic which Davidson has previously linked to happiness and enthusiasm.

This idea that meditation could improve the wellbeing of everyone, even those not struggling with mental illness, is something that is exciting researchers.

Professor Williams believes it has huge potential.

“It involves dealing with expectations, with constantly judging ourselves – feeling we’re not good enough,” he said.

“And, that is something which is so widespread in our communities.

“All of these things are just thoughts. And, they will come up in meditation and learning to recognize what they are as thoughts, and let them go, can be enormously empowering for anybody.”

There is, of course, a distinct possibility that this research will come to nothing and that interest in meditation will turn out to be a passing fad, but for now this ancient discipline is being taken seriously by scientists as a tool with potential to make each one of us happier and more content.

“By meditating, you can become happier, you can concentrate more effectively and you can change your brain in ways that support that” says Dr Richard Davidson.

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Meditation ‘brain training’ clues
Meditation ‘good for brain’
How to temper your temper
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Sources: BBC NEWS:2nd. April.’08